Jobless rate for July at 10% locally
At 10 percent, Mesa County had the eighth-highest unemployment rate in July among Colorado’s 64 counties.
That’s 1.5 percentage points higher than Colorado’s unemployment rate, which dropped three-tenths of a percentage point month-over-month and year-over-year in July, same as Mesa County.
But there is reason to celebrate the county’s double-digit rate, according to Mesa County Workforce Center Employment Specialist Suzie Miller. The county’s labor force continued to grow month-over-month for the second consecutive month in July, something that hadn’t happened since February.
Unlike June, when the labor force increased because of a bump in the unemployment tally, July’s labor force increase was entirely because of the addition of 322 people since June to the list of employed Mesa County residents. The number of unemployed Mesa County residents decreased from 7,840 in June to 7,622 in July.
The change may be because of greater job availability, Miller said. So far this year, the workforce center has posted 1,758 job orders, which can include one or more job openings at a single company. The center posted just 1,374 job orders between Jan. 1 and Aug. 19 last year and a scant 1,181 job orders between Jan. 1, 2009, and Aug. 19, 2009.
Those numbers don’t quite compete with the 1,958 job orders posted in the same period of 2008 or the 2,607 orders posted during the same months of 2007. But Miller finds this year’s statistics positive.
“It shows we’re slowly making growth out of this recession,” she said.
The workforce center is having a problem it hasn’t had in a while: It’s struggling to find workers for certain positions, mostly in transportation and manufacturing. While office jobs still fill fast, jobs in driving and manufacturing are staying posted longer, Miller said, because many require experience and/or make employees work outside Grand Junction.
Miller said it may be harder to find the right workers because it’s possible they moved away. Although the labor force increased by 104 people month-over-month in July, there were 2,972 fewer employed or job-seeking Mesa County residents in July 2011 than there were in July 2010.
“I think some of our qualified workforce has found work elsewhere,” she said.